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GMO Wānanga

30 October, 2020 @ 11:00 am - 1:30 pm

The HSNO Komiti invites all interested whānau to join an online wānanga as the first step in an ongoing discussion about these proposals and the wider implications. If you are interested, the HSNO Komiti will provide a pack of background materials to help inform the discussion.

If you would like to join the online wānanga, please register at: [email protected]

If you are unable to join the online wānanga, there will be more opportunities to be part of the discussion. You can email the HSNO Komiti with your thoughts and concerns about GMOs. We look forward to an interesting and lively discussion on this important kaupapa.

The HSNO Komiti

The Ngāi Tahu Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Komiti (commonly known as the “HSNO Komiti”) was established to provide formal responses from Ngāi Tahu to applications to bring in and use chemicals, other hazardous substances, and new organisms”). The Komiti works to the Ngāi Tahu Hazardous Substance and New Organisms Policy Statement, updated in 2019.

Under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996, the Environmental Protection Authority (“EPA”) considers applications and imposes conditions for the safety of the new substances or organisms to be used in New Zealand. Most of the work of the HSNO Komiti is reviewing applications and preparing submissions to the EPA.

New organisms include insects to be used for biocontrol of pest species – such as a wasp that eats up aphids off crops – and genetically modified organisms (“GMOs”).

The technology

Genetic modification is the process of directly changing the DNA or genetic material of a plant or living creature to produce desired new outcomes in its characteristics and behaviours. Twenty years ago the issues around using this technology in New Zealand were considered by a Royal Commission of Inquiry – .

There are deeply profound cultural, spiritual, and ethical considerations for whakapapa, mātauranga, kaitiakitanga, whanaungatanga, mauri, tapu and tikanga from this science that can alter the very existence of living things. Decisions around this kaupapa cannot be taken lightly, and it is important that there are opportunities for Ngāi Tahu whānui to discuss these issues and form a position.

The current proposals

The HSNO Komiti is aware of two new research projects involving GMOs that are currently under way. The research teams are seeking to engage with Ngāi Tahu and seek tribal endorsement for their applications to the EPA. These projects are:

  • A proposal to use gene editing to control pest species such as wasps and possums. This would not introduce any DNA from other species but would only alter the DNA of the target pest species to disrupt normal breeding processes.
  • A proposal to use gene editing to modify the DNA of Auckland Island pigs to grow organs (such as kidneys) to be transplanted into humans. This would involve mixing of human and animal DNA. This project is based in Murihiku and the HSNO Komiti has engaged with Awarua Rūnanga on this kaupapa.

More information